While the Falcons’ season was going down in flames, Tony Gonzalez publicly confessed that he wouldn’t pressure the Falcons to trade him to a contender. It was easy to take Gonzalez’s comments at face value mainly because Gonzalez remained with a Falcons team that ended the season 4-12. But privately, there apparently was a different story playing out.
Seth Wickersham shadowed Gonzalez throughout his final NFL season for ESPN Magazine and he got to see firsthand that Gonzalez very much wanted to be traded to a contender. In fact, Gonzalez expected to be traded at the trade deadline. And when he wasn’t, he was none too happy.
With the Oct. 29 trade deadline approaching, the Falcons were 2-5. Gonzalez met with coach Mike Smith and GM Thomas Dimitroff. He was careful not to ask for a trade, but he made it clear that he would accept one. Gonzalez told Seth later: “You trade me to a team that needs me, that wants to make a serious run in the playoffs and the Super Bowl. You get something in return for a guy who you know won’t be here next year. And the season isn’t going anywhere anyway. That’s rational.” At the trade deadline, Gonzalez sat at a restaurant with his wife and waited to hear which team it would be. When that call never came, he was not happy.
The notion of being traded isn’t the only subject that Gonzalez gave conflicting statements, depending on if he was speaking publicly or privately. When it came to whether or not 2013 was his final NFL season, the answer was yes publicly and maybe not privately.
Wickersham writes about a dinner shared between Gonzalez and Matt Ryan where Gonzalez lays out a scenario where he plays for the Falcons in 2014.
Despite all the drama and disappointment this season, Gonzalez consistently confessed that he isn’t so sure about retirement: At dinner with Ryan one night, Gonzalez said, “Maybe, if the team is hot in November, 9-2 or something, I could come back for the last two months.”
If anything, these accounts show just how bad Gonzalez wants to win a championship. So it shouldn’t surprise any of us if we see Gonzalez back in 2014 playing for the Falcons or some other contender.